Why do Americans, who otherwise have a fair moral sense and have often intervened around the world to protect victimized groups, continue to tolerate any and all Israeli crimes against Palestinians, and then blame the Palestinians for fighting back? Why do Americans consider Palestinians undeserving of basic human rights? Why don’t Americans realize that Zionism is a form of ethnic and religious bigotry and discrimination? Why did Americans go to war on the basis of UN Resolutions in order to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, yet continue to aid and abet the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in contradiction to the UN Resolution 242 and 338?
Having been raised in a typical American Protestant family, I believe I can shed some light on this issue. I was once there myself. America’s moral blindness on this issue is due to many factors working together, reinforcing each other:
Physical Isolation — Americans live on a continent on the other side of the Earth. Most Americans never travel to the Middle East. Here they may know some Jews, but few know any Palestinians. Americans are not close enough to the people or the conflict to receive any unbiased factual information. They must rely on the American media for information.
Media Bias — The American media and political establishment is rabidly pro-Israeli for a variety of reasons, some listed below. Many newspapers and media giants are owned by Israel-sympathizing Jews. In addition, the Israeli propaganda machine is sophisticated and powerful, practically guaranteeing that Americans receive nothing but pro-Israeli propaganda. Any one who attempts to criticize Israel’s actions is shouted down with the all-purpose charge of “anti-Semitism”. Any attempt to present a “neutral” journalistic view of current events in the Middle East plays into Israel’s hand, as such a treatment ignores the historical and moral context that has produced the current violence. The movie “Exodus”, seen by millions of Americans, presented the ethnic cleansing of Palestine as a peaceful transition.
Jewish manipulation of the American Political system — Politicians are afraid of the Zionist lobby. They should be.
No comprehension of suffering — Americans generally have grown up comfortably in a stable country that was never threatened. They have no idea what life is like for people who see relatives killed, who are displaced from their homes, who live under the power of a hostile tribalistic government, who have their houses bulldozed, whose ability to earn a living depends on their captor’s whims. Americans simply cannot understand why the Palestinians hate their overlords so much that they will take up stones against soldiers firing bullets. Let any American live with some Palestinians in the West Bank for a few days and his views would be transformed.
Shared Racism and Genocide — America, like Israel, was created by Europeans with a genocide of the indigenous people. White settlers drove the American Indians off their ancestral land. If they fought, they were killed. Indians were confined to a few reservations. No thought was given to the rights of the Indians. Whites believed that God wanted them to have the land. Until recent years, the Indian genocide was celebrated in Western movies, and never criticized in schools. Just as Indians were considered uncivilized heathens not deserving basic rights; so are the Palestinians. The parallels between the establishment of the American and Israeli states are many. The American genocide and enslavement of African people likewise has been insufficiently recognized, criticized, or corrected. Racism thrives at a subconscious level in the vast majority of Americans’ minds. Americans consider themselves and their country to be especially righteous and blessed by God. The Israeli Jews, of course, consider themselves the “Chosen People”. The religious bigotry and tribalism inherent in this idea require no comment.
The Bible — Having little history of their own, and being descended largely from fervent Christians, Americans have grown up in Sunday schools being taught stories from the Bible about the Jews–their suffering in Egypt, their march through the desert, their wars, their kings, their prophets, their heros and heroines, etc. From the Old Testament, American kids learn that the Jews’ attack upon, conquest of, and slaughter of the Canaanites, Philistines, and other indigenous peoples of Palestine was good and right; ordained by God himself!Imagine the effect of such ideas on little children! The Old Testament makes it clear: Jews-Good: Canaanites-Bad. Now of course, the formula is Israelis-Good:P alestinians-Bad. Is it any surprise that when they grow up, Americans think that it’s perfectly all right for Israeli Jews to kill and displace the Palestinians? Isn’t God on the side of the Jews now just as in the Old Testament? Shouldn’t they reconquer the land that God gave them? Aren’t the Palestinians to be blamed for resisting this holy crusade? The other world history that Americans learn in public schools about other places and events is comparatively dry and meaningless. The only meaningful ancient history for most Americans is Jewish history. Furthermore, many fundamentalist Christians are “Friends of Israel”. They take the Book of Revelations in the New Testament very seriously. They believe that Christ’s Second Coming to Earth will be preceded by the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel and a war over Israel. All the more reason for Protestants to help establish Israel and remain its “friend”.
The Crusades — After Jewish history and Cowboy history, Americans know Crusader history. Castles and knights fascinate them, and of course the Holy Quest to take back the Holy Land from the Arabs. What could be more wonderful than to see the evil Saracens finally vanquished. How much better if the Jewish people also recreate Israel in their Biblical home in the process? In fact, history will look back on the establishment of the state of Israel as the Ninth Crusade of Western Christendom against Islam. The history books will relate how the collapse of the Ottoman Empire allowed the West to retake the Holy Land and re-enact Biblical history with no risk and little expense–using a small proxy army of Zionist volunteers.
The Holocaust — Americans fought the Germans and liberated many Jews from the concentration camps. The mass-murder and atrocities committed by the Nazis rightly filled Americans with pity. This prompted American to support the establishment of the state of Israel against all wishes and rights of the people living there. Democracy in America, not for others. The Zionists have continued to shamelessly play on this pity for their own advantage. Their leaders never fail to mention it as a justification for whatever atrocity they commit. One is reminded frequently of the psychological phenomena of identifying with the aggressor. The Zionist Jews have externalized their anger and attempted to undo their own victimization by repeating the Nazi’s crimes–the victim this time being the Palestinians.
Islam — Judaism is familiar through the Old Testament, which is included in every American’s Bible. For American Christians, Judaism is not the right religion, but it is familiar and is no threat. God chose the Jews for the first covenant with man. Judaism was supplanted by the second covenant through Jesus. So to Christians, Judaism is tribalistic and anachronistic and poses no threat. Most Christians are unaware of the bigoted and unethical teachings of the Talmud. Islam is a completely different matter. It is a universal religion, not confined to a single race. It is growing and represents a threat to Christianity. Christians know that Islam reduces Christ to a prophet. Christians don’t look on it as just another religion; they see Islam as an heretical sect of Judaism and Christianity–which is much worse. Americans fear and loath Islam all the more because they’ve encountered it primarily in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict.. Unfortunately, Americans generally don’t actually know any Muslims so that they might realize that they’re humans also.
Arab “Terrorism” — Americans have been assaulted for years by images of Arabs committing terrorist acts. Ignorant of the history of the region, they cannot understand the Arab terrorism has been a reaction to Israeli terrorism–its ethnic cleansing of Palestine and its apartheid regime. They’ve become convinced instead that Arabs are inherently violent and untrustworthy. They have mistaken a symptom of a moral disorder for the cause. Arabs are not violent people in general. By any measure, there is far less violence in their societies than in America. The Palestinians are fighting for their freedom against an implacable enemy. The Palestinians have suffered much, much more at the hands of the Israelis than the American colonists ever did from the British, yet Americans celebrate their violent struggle against the occupying British. The Palestinians’ desperate acts against the occupying Israelis and their supporters are morally justified given the violence that the Israelis have committed and continue to commit against them. Under altered circumstances, Americans would support the Palestinians as freedom fighters and understand that they were driven to suicidal violence and terrorism by the criminality of the Israeli state. Morally, most persons believe that violence is justified in order to end violent oppression, and this is the case in Palestine. Psychologically, people who are violated and oppressed will strike back in any way they can, especially when they have nothing more to lose. The Palestinians can not take on the Israeli war machine, so in their intense anger, they attack any Israeli or supporter of Israel that they can reach. They use any means available, even if they can only throw stones at soldiers who are shooting at them, and even if they must kill themselves in suicide bombings.
The above factors, taken together, are a sufficient explanation for America’s collusion with Israel’s theft of Palestine, with its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, with its apartheid regime, and with its use of violence to force the Palestinians to accept a peace plan that lets it get away with murder and theft. In reality, the current state of affairs is a violent affront to the values that Americans hold dear. I sincerely hope that more and more Americans will wake up and open their eyes. If only they begin to understand the true historical and moral context of the conflict, they would demand a moral solution. They would support UN Resolutions 191, 242, and 338. They would demand an end to the payments and the arms shipments. They would demand that the refugees be allowed to return, that Israel’s victims be compensated, and that Israel reconstitute itself as a non-tribal, secular democracy with equal rights for all human beings.